Monday, October 7, 2013

New Flowers, Mission Reunion, and Sister Jutarat Leaves for MTC

On our return to Ayutthaya, we found new flowers planted in our front yard. Several members (about half the branch) had cut the grass and added to the landscape of our yard during our absence. Such kindness!

There has been flooding in our area, and 4 members' homes have been flooded. Only one has had to move to another house. We've heard that 1500 members in Cambodia have been flooded out.

Joan and I attended a Thai mission reunion in Bangkok. It was actually for native Thais and residents who have served missions, but the current senior couples were invited too. It was wonderful to see many missionaries from different mission president eras – many of those mission presidents were missionaries from my mission. I wish they all could have been here to see the fruits of their efforts. At one point I realized I was the oldest Thai mission RM there. That was sobering! They had asked the senior couples to sing a special number we had about 5 minutes of practice. They assumed that we all sing well. Joan does and so do our mission president and wife. The rest of the men could not even read music. President Senior asked Joan what parts people were singing, she answered,  "You will sing tenor, and the rest sing monotone."

On Sunday our branch sent off a missionary, Sister Jutarat, to the Sidney Australia North mission. She first goes to the Provo MTC to learn English. She had her "opportunity to speak in church" aka farewell, last Sunday. But since yesterday was Fast Sunday, many members shared special experiences they had with her. She has been the branch activity chair, a branch missionary and seminary teacher – all at the same time. (FYI- it was Fast Sunday here and we will watch general conference next week.) 

Group that came to be with Sister Jutarat as
she is set apart to leave on her mission.
Sister Jutarat was set apart by President Senior in Bangkok in the evening. About 20 members of the branch made the hour and 1/2 trip in a van to be there with her. We drove down, too. Her family has never come to one church event in the 10 years she has been a member, but they came to see her set apart. She flew out early this morning--by herself--her first flight, to LA then SLC. She speaks some English and is going where few speak Thai. I can imagine her fear, but she is going in faith. She will see snow for the first time. 

To explain the love the members have for Sister Jutarat: they did not return from Bangkok until about 8 PM, some still had another hour on motorcycles to get home in pouring rain. This sister is the best member we could send on a mission now. I hope seeing her go will inspire many of our youth to serve in the next few years when they are old enough.
-Elder Sowards
Sister Jutarat's family. She is holding the baby.

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